Una cifra lo dice todo

NEW HAVEN - La cifra es un 0,2%. Es el promedio de crecimiento anual del gasto de los consumidores estadounidenses durante los últimos 14 trimestres, calculada en términos ajustados a la inflación del primer trimestre de 2008 al segundo trimestre de 2011. Nunca antes en la era posterior a la Segunda Guerra Mundial el consumo había sido tan débil durante tanto tiempo. Esta cifra resume gran parte de lo que no está funcionando hoy en EE.UU.  y en la economía global.

Es posible distinguir dos fases en este periodo de debilidad sin precedentes de los consumidores estadounidenses. Desde el primer trimestre de 2008 hasta el segundo período de 2009, la demanda del consumidor cayó durante seis trimestres consecutivos a una tasa del 2,2% anual. No es de extrañar que la contracción fuera más aguda cuando más fuerte se sentía la gran crisis, con una caída del 4,5% en los trimestres  tercero y cuarto de 2008.

Mientras la economía de EE.UU. tocaba fondo a mediados de 2009, los consumidores entraron a una segunda fase, una recuperación muy moderada. El aumento anualizado del consumo real en los ocho trimestres comprendidos entre el tercer trimestre de 2009 y el segundo trimestre de 2011 muestra un promedio del 2,1%. Se trata de la recuperación del consumo más anémica de la que se tenga registro, 1,5 puntos porcentuales menor que la tendencia del 3,6% de los 12 años anteriores la crisis, entre 1996 y 2007.

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